Saturday, May 18, 2019

It seemed so much larger when I was there...

Have never tried to copy an online photo into my blog before. But, this Super-Ultra-Aerial of Ireland really caught my eye.

I sincerely believe the embedded credit to the crew of the ISS should be sufficient! I am NOT claiming I took this. Would not be able to step back this far. Haha.

I was discussing with a friend my two-week trip to wander all over Ireland and disclosed a gaffe I made  MORE THAN ONCE when getting into the small vans often used for sightseeing tours.

Checking my camera after a round of touring a site, and heading back to the van, I would open the passenger-side door and be confronted with a steering wheel!

Others in the small group who had seen me do this before. would snicker as I quietly closed the door and scooted around to the left-hand side of the very Irish vehicle.

I was in Ireland for two weeks and, after a while (almost 7 days), I would approach the vehicles correctly.

To my credit, I never made this mistake when entering a tour BUS.

I always felt safer in a large bus, looking down at the oncoming traffic.

Especially when it appeared to my American eyes, that there was nobody behind the wheel!

Oh, then I would see there was indeed a driver, on the other side of the front seat.

Whew. Close one. This is a short posing, triggered by the ISS view of all of Ireland.

(Click on the pictures for more detail.) Thanks for a disjointed drive down MY memory lane.

Come again. I'll drive.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The laughter lingers...

Back on October 17, 2010, I was very pleased to see Tim Conway at the Charleston Performing Arts Center (PAC) do a 3 pm Sunday Matinee (he knew his audience!)

Half the parking lot that day was designated as Handicap parking. 

The Matinee ended in time for the "older" audience to get to the Early Bird dining discount meals in the area. Nobody there had a camera and I am certain, there were very few cellphones.

Tim did the offstage voice to introduce himself and told the audience to take all the photos and videos they wanted. Even using a flash would be OK. 

Safe bet and a funny bit!

He did the inept, numbed dentist routine - still VERY funny - and Dorf the diminutive duffer stood tall. 
He had the "sound man" demonstrate how an echo effect is achieved. 

He opened with a funny question and answer session a la Carol Burnett before the show started that also was hilarious! 

It was a really fine afternoon show and I am pleased I got a few pictures that I just pulled up from my files to share. 

Enjoy  - this is my personal Tribute to a terrific comic genius!

(Click on the photos for more details.) 

Thank you for coming along to revisit a memorable show by a man who will always be known as a GREAT funny man!

Thank you Tim Conway!

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

We'll always have Paris.....

I was saddened when I saw coverage of the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral burning.

To have been inside a few years ago, while a choir was practicing, was awesome.

The lilting voices echoing around the huge interior was memorable!

My camera and I had captured the church's classic exterior from front to back, on all sides and the soaring buttresses.

But the real catch-your-breath moment was when you entered through the massive front doors and were bathed in the soft glowing pastel colors of the stained glass windows.

Here was a House of God for the ages.

 The soft, muted and toned light playing through the windows highlighted objects and drew your eye in closer and closer.

So glad we came in to see the interior splendor.

How could you not desire to be inside, to soak in the colors, the sounds, and the 850-plus years of history?

I had visited another great cathedral, the "young" St. Patrick's in New York City.

But, here in Paris, with a cadre of young singers practicing "for the tourists" was a special added audio treat.

We roamed around the vast church, snapping photos while being respectful.

Smiling and soaking in the sights and sounds.

The leader had them start again and the pulsing voices bounced all around the carved stone and the crowd was silent.

I yearned to see the interior I remembered and had photographed in June 2016.

All the dismal exterior views as the fire roared. The steeple toppling into the fiery inferno as the fire brigades labored to stop the destruction. Heart-breaking images.

I am pleased I found these in my files and wanted to share how it used to be ....and may be once again.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Signs of the Times...

Oh, sure, one of the elephants is PINK.

Even if you are cold sober as you hop off I-95 onto US 17 South heading to Savannah, there they are...two very large pachyderms!

They stand in front of a giant fireworks store.

The intent is to catch your eye, you pull over, park and go inside to buy lots of firecrackers, aerial bombs, and a handful of B-90s. Be very careful!

So far, I have passed at night and the store is not open.

But, recently I stopped and saw that a new warning sign had been added to the exhibition.

Obviously, someone HAD done some climbing so now they are warned NOT to do it.

That's the deal with such warning signs.

Before a person could whine and say "Well, there wasn't a sign saying I couldn't do it."

Even the Lincoln Memorial in Washington had to tell kids of all ages not to use the tempting slide.

(Guess there would be no rule prohibiting sliding UP the railing..except Gravity, of course.)

My camera and I have been observing such warnings and capturing them when seen. Lately, using a cell phone.

 Sadly, warning about the obvious is not limited to just the United States.

I saw this at the conclusion of a summer tour of (some) of Buckingham Palace in London.

OK, let's assume it was a Yank with his vacationing family.

Here they were with a blanket and a picnic basket and the wide, vast, well-manicured green lawn called to them!

Hey, they reasoned nothing says we CAN'T do this here. Now, there is proper signage.
They even threw in a ban on smoking, just to irritate the French tourists.

Sometimes, in lieu of a Welcome sign, the message is all about what will NOT be tolerated.

Let's see...yep, it pretty much covered everything I was wont to try.

Sometimes just concealed weapons are banned.

So, strap on your holster and 6-shooter, podner, and let's see who raises a shaky hand at you.

The ban or warning could be taken out of content misleading a newly-licensed driver.

But, keep your eyes - and tires - on the road.

This is a familiar advice sign you can see many times on Folly Beach, SC.

It IS called "The Edge Of America" but this refers to parking your car on this barrier island 12 miles from downtown Charleston, SC.

I once got a ticket even though I heeded the warning. It did not specify which way to be headed, parking on a one-way street.

Here is a sign with an image called an "Easter Egg."

Sure, we all have seen the familiar signage on their vehicles but had you noticed the green FX portion forms a white direction arrow?

Warning, do not try to study this design while driving!

Clever but awkward to explain to the police when you rear-end the car that stopped in front of you.

Remember, you are always at fault hitting someone in that direction..back of their car.

Well, unless you can prove they were driving in reverse.

OKAY, technically the sign on the left really is a sign you see a lot overseas.

It is a non-verbal way to say the exit is over here.

No language problems.

BUT, I added some signage myself to make a visual joke.

But, cause and effect is not always a pretty picture!

My diet has me counting carbs so staying away from bran.

I also have not seen this "EXIT" sign locally. Whew.

I used to wonder how business was at this Auto Paint and Body Shop.

Not where I would have gone for any finishing work on my car.

A few years ago, it was bought by new owners who specialize in Asian food.

They did clean up the exterior too so I have dropped in for a meal or two.

Guess the previous owner concentrated on what happened inside his shop and did not worry about the rest.

As the region starts to gear up for the next hurricane season, it is good to check details when buying storm-related equipment.

Businesses have caught on to people who buy products specifically helpful in getting through such seasonal woes as loss of power.

During Hurricane Hugo 30 years ago, my folks were wind-battered, lost 9 pine trees (all fell AWAY from the house and lost power for about two weeks.

They were unsure just how long, as it was not a pleasant memory. They recall standing in lines to purchase Dry Ice but gave up as the outage dragged on.

They did say their insurance company paid them for the lost frozen food and some shingle-replacement costs for the roof.

They added, the company later went out of business within weeks. Oh yeah, the check cleared!

Let's wrap us this sign exercise with a view I had while touring Ireland several years ago.

I was pleased to see a lot of English on this mixture, not just Irish.

Not always the case on the Old Sod.

Even the ubiquitous British expression "Mind The Gap Was" on the platform edge at the tube/subway
but, here, it took off in a flowing script I could not figure out.

I took a guess, minded where I stepped and later found out I was correct in my transit assumption.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for "signing on" to this silly overview of signage.

It could become my signature style of blogging.

A Sign of things to come.

You might say, a clear sign.

And, with that, I am signing off.

And, that's a sign of progress.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

"Happy 103rd birthday, Mom!"

 Well, no, she did not reach the triple digits but she lived a helluva good, long time.

March 5, 1916 was when she was born and she passed just a few days after her 96th birthday.

She would have smiled and wished everyone a "Happy St. Paddy's Day" at her funeral down in Yemassee, SC.

I returned to Charleston after my divorce in 1993 and was living on James Island in a neat little brick 800 sf building at the end of a winding dirt road.

Mom had retired as an LPN from St. Francis Hospital after working downtown for 25 years.

Yes, they gave her a 25-year service pin, a gold watch... and a rather small pension.

She once complained to me how $139 a month after 25 years with the hospital, was not very much money.

I agreed it was small by today's standards but she had been collecting it each month for nearly 30 years!

We did the math: $139 x 12 months equaled $1,668 a year.

Times the 30 years she had received a retirement pension check would be a total of slightly more than $50,000!

That put a smile on her face and she said "OK, where's the fifty grand?"

(The photo above shows Mom playing around, pressing her face on the hospital copy machine many, many years ago.)

The photo on the left shows Mom joining me for a beer on a Sunday afternoon at the now-closed Backstage Deli in North Charleston.

Not a drinker, she had agreed to pose with me and a yard of ale I  had bought for this photo opp.

This was the only place I knew that gambled on using the tall, fragile glasses in a public bar.

You had to hand over your driver's license before they would start to fill the glass.

That deterred people from sneaking out the door with the costly souvenir glass.

It would have been difficult to hide it under your coat or sweater.

And, of course, you had to also steal the wooden glass holder.

Breakage finally called a halt to the use of these special glasses, I was told by the owner.

In this other "drinking" photo, Mom was hoisting a glass of Welch's fizzy grape juice that was as close to her version of an alcoholic toast that we shared to welcome a new year.

Needless to say, I had filled my glass with real wine.

A nice pinot noir to be precise.

On New Year's Eve, I would attend the Retirees Drop-in at the Post and Courier.

For many years, I brought home the bottle of "fake" wine the paper handed out.

After I had returned to town for a few years, my dad went into a nursing home.

 Mom asked me to move in with her because she did not want to be alone in her home.

My brothers were married and living elsewhere so I was the available son to do that for her.

I did move in and she stayed in her home for another 10 years with me as her "roommate."

It was good for both of us.

One side of the house was finished as a bachelor pad for me.

(Dad was a carpenter and had expanded the 800 sf house they bought in 1962 to 2,000 square feet.

First thing he added was a 1,000 square foot workshop because that's where he made his money.)

After I moved in, I had a deck built on the back of the house so mom could relax on sunny afternoons. Two overhead fans made sure she was comfortable out there.

Another fan was added to the front porch so she could "move with the sun" from one to the other.

I had a good deal, a nice house and my mom asking if I would be home for dinner that night.

She liked to cook and now she had a son at home to cook for.

My cousin Francine (Pookie) continued her visits to see mom as she had done for years when we all lived downtown at Meeting and Society Streets in Ansonborough.

She had driven mom to visit dad at the Mt. Pleasant nursing home for several years until he passed away.

Not surprising, when mom could not continue to stay at home, even with paid caregivers, the choice for Assisted Living was Sandpiper, the same one she had selected for her husband.

Very social, Mom had a delightful, spacious room, filled with her furniture, pictures she loved on the walls and mementos she treasured.

 Unfortunately, after only 5 months there, she suffered a stroke and was moved to the nursing home part of the facility.

She was diligent in her physical therapy and regained most of her speech and the use of her left side.

I noticed that once a week, adorable dogs were brought to Sandpiper to comfort residents.

I like that, so one day, I packed up Wallaby, her cat, and brought him to visit her.

Might have been the first cat to visit.

She was asleep when I arrived. I carefully took him out of the carrier, put him on the bed and gently placed her hand on his head.

Memory - or his purring - awoke her and she smiled as she petted her feline friend.

I visited mom often and joined her for lunch many times.

Got to know the staff over the 4 years she was there and they did not mind when I took mom on a very FAST cruise around the facility.

Well, maybe they were concerned but I was careful and only did this when we were alone.

She would laugh and say "Go faster."

Which I did.

My younger brother Dennis moved from Clearwater, Florida, up to Summerville and he and his wife would come to visit mom.

We all would join her for meals and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Dennis captured a sweet moment when a colorful clown posed with her on a New Year's Eve.

He is on the right.

I later found out he was the husband of one of the staff who took care of mom.

When mom passed, she was buried on March 17 at her beloved Yemassee, where she had grown up as a child.

It's a place I stop and visit when I am heading down to Savannah.

Not as often as I should, but mom would understand.

She did not live to see me start being picked as an Extra in various tv shows and movies here in Charleston and down in Savannah.

She would have encouraged me to do this and hope - with me - that maybe someday I would even be featured and given a line or two.

Mom's are like that.

(Click on the photos or links for more information.)

I did not finish this entry in time for her birthday so I wanted to make sure it was posted before the anniversary of her funeral.

Thanks Mom.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

"The train, she's a-comin'"

 I grew up in Charleston and have been to the local train station many times.

It's technically in North Charleston, but it's "our" railroad depot.

It has been slowly begging to be replaced ever since it opened in the 1950s.

Problem: it still looked and felt like the 1950s.

It was a shabby "welcome" to the Lowcountry and talks had gone on for years on how to either fund a massive facelift or just tear it down and start all over.

The "tear it down" faction prevailed and the former station now is no longer standing.

I stopped by originally in November 2017 when I heard a change was coming.

Orange cones blocked off most of the small, fenced parking area and it now was even more inconvenient to use except to maybe drop someone off.

When I stopped by again - almost a year later - I could see construction was coming along fine and the new building already had a nice  "welcoming" look to it.

Somehow, I knew the old station destination sign soon would be replaced.

But, I was pleasantly surprised last week when my brother and I stopped by so I could show him what was in the works.

Hey, it looked like it had opened!

None of the three daily Amtrak* trains was at the station (one in the morning and two in the afternoon).

An employee was in the brand new ticket office and she explained that trains now were stopping there to drop off and pick up new passengers heading North and South.

*(I went online to verify the three trains and their scheduled times but Amtrak has to be the most complicated entity government has ever produced. Customer service??

The listing I eeventually found had the hours of operation wrong, showed photos and details about the old building that no longer exists and I could not find if any trains actually served Charleston. Sigh.)

It was twilight so I stepped out to see the new, much longer covered area where passengers would alight or board trains from now on.

Pretty impressive!

But inside - WOW -  the new facility was now as modern-looking as our nearby Charleston International airport.

Shiny, bright and squeaky clean.

Here was a proper welcome to train travelers coming in to visit America's Number One Destination...according to a survey of the readers of Travel & Leisure Magazine.

Well, I personally thought New York City was a pretty swell place to visit, but, this title WAS based on a survey.

My brother and I wandered around the deserted new facility. 

Well, any gathering of employees and passengers - or residents awaiting arrivals - would obviously be there closer to the expected train arrival or departure times.

So, we had the place to ourselves as we both tried to capture some of the "newness" with our cameras.

I did not see a sign of the empty tall, wooden pay phone booths I had seen in the old building.

In fact, we asked the lone employee there,  what was happening at that old, tired building.

I said I remembered taking photos of it and she looked surprised by the question.

"Well, it is gone. Once we moved into here in December, it was torn down," she said.

"Even all the trees have been removed, They just dug them up with big machines," she added.

We wandered down toward where it had once stood since the 1950s. Looking out just as darkness fell, we saw she was accurate. Very accurate.

Sure enough, the land was scraped bare and downed trees were stacked atop piles of dirt.

Obviously, it would not be long before all that space would be paved and parking stripes uniformly painted.

This would very soon be a very large parking lot.

That should have been done 60 years ago.

(Click on the photos and links for more details).

I have included a link to the very unclear details online about Amtrak passenger service.

Hopefully, as the details are compiled and updated, clicking that link WILL display the information rail travelers need.

Meanwhile, be aware the station is still at 4565 Gayner Avenue in North Charleston.

Happy trails!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Good to see John, George, Paul and Ringo again...

 It has been quite a while since I last saw the Beatles in concert.

It was 1965 in San Diego.

I was working as a staff photographer for the Union-Tribune newspapers and used my press pass to enter the downtown rather small football stadium for the evening show.

I had covered the press conference that morning when they first arrived in town. It was a stop on their way up to Los Angeles.

The paper a while back did a "50 years ago" recap story and used some of my morning photos..and even included my Photo By Chuck Boyd byline.

My more recent time with the Fab Four was a few nights ago when this widely-acclaimed Tribute Troupe came to the Charleston Music Hall.

The talented foursome said they had been in Florida the night before and would be in the Raleigh-Durham area next. Part of their Southern Tour.

We all were invited to tag along. I was really tempted..they were that good.

The evening started when the spotlight shone on "Ed Sullivan" and he introduced the talented performers we all were there to see and hear.

They did not disappoint.

("Sullivan" also did a fair comic impression of "Tricky" Dick Nixon. Hmmm, had not seen the resemblance before.)

Ringo set the beat and the show kicked off with early Beatles hits like "Love Me Do," "I wanna Hold Your Hand," and other "bubble gum" wonders.

Actually, that was closer to the 32-minute show I had covered in San Diego 54 years ago.

But, this time you could hear the lyrics without the screaming emotional young girls!

I was seated in the 8th row this night so had a good view of the overall stage with projected actual Beatles crowds and reaction images as a backdrop.

Added a lot to the show.

Later, toward the end, we were invited to come on down close to the stage.

I sprinted forward because no "real" cameras were allowed and I was using my cellphone one which did a manageable job for the evening.

We were informed that these four young men were actually playing each instrument, sang with similar voices and really looked the part.

Also, we were told there were no recordings, hidden tapes or CDs.

The last mention caused the man playing Paul to ask aloud "Eh, so wot's a CD?"

A rare moment when they stepped out of well-trained character but it got the expected laugh.

Others humorous reactions happened when "Sullivan" remarked about "all the young people in the audience."

Looking around at all the gray hair and bald heads, it obviously was a comment the real Ed Sullivan made back in the 1960s.

 But there was a large family seated near me that qualified as young and who were very much moved by the music.

The two youngest stood and danced for most of the nearly 2-hour show.

Ah, Youth and stamina!

There was a tender moment when "John" sang about "Give Peace a chance."

He was wearing the white suit often seen on the original Beatle and dramatic lighting culminated in forming a word that epitomized his intent.

There were other moving reminders of the loss of two key members of the original group.

Lennon and George Harrison performed songs closely affiliated with them.

The audience was totally in tune with the intent of the evening to bring back warm memories.

A costume change produced long applause to salute the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band and even moments of life in a Yellow Submarine.

The Beatles' 1967 album SgtPepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has a widely recognized album cover that depicts several dozen celebrities and other images. 

... It was created by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake, who in 1967 won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts for their work on it.

Here George and John team up for a colorful reminder of how great the album was.

And the imaginative outfits produced for it.

When we were invited to come closer, there was a lot of good-natured mugging for the cameras - er - cellphones.

I had seen Sir Paul McCartney twice in recent years, performing with an energy level that answered the question:  "Will you still love me when I'm 64?"

This man's version of Paul McCartney added charm and chuckles to the evening.

We all had a chance to get up close and I even held up my palm to receive an offered guitar pick.

I was forgetting for the moment these men were recreating an era from long ago.

(I do have picks handed to me by Buddy Guy, BB King, and c.d.lang.)

 All in all, it was a fun, fanciful evening at the Charleston Music Hall.

In a few days, I will be there again to enjoy another evening with The Taj Mahal Trio.

Don't think it's hard to see that I am a supporter of live music.

Doing my share to keep 'em coming by being part of an appreciative audience.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for coming with me to an evening of live music and great memories. I wish us all many more.

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